Fibromyalgia. I write about this topic far too much on this blog, or so it feels. However, today’s piece isn’t so much focused on the symptoms or recent flare up, as much as it is the effect of my mental health/self-care.
If you are unaware of what fibromyalgia is, here you go, you lazy bum: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354780#:~:text=Fibromyalgia%20is%20a%20disorder%20characterized,process%20painful%20and%20nonpainful%20signals.
My most recent flare up consisted of pain in my forearms, hips, and down both legs. Being the stubborn fool that I am, I decided to push through it. I spent time with family and friends, worked ten hour days, and did so with little relaxation in between. This was a rookie mistake.
By the time the weekend rolled around, my pain went from a 3ish (which is manageable) out of 10 up to a 7. This is about when I am due for a necessary break. That Saturday though, I penciled myself in to help a friend move across town and then drive up to my girlfriend’s family for a barbecue in the early afternoon. When I woke up that morning, it started off at a 6 and well before I lifted a single box or piece of furniture.
I figured I’d take it slow and see if my pain improved (which sometimes happens). To be safe, I texted my girlfriend and told her that I might not be able to make the barbecue.
After about an hour of picking things up and putting them down, I felt it. Halfway through the moving process, my arms gave out. On our way to the new place, I called my girlfriend to tell her that I wouldn’t able to make it. Her demeanor dropped followed by my sunken heart. I heard the sadness in her voice almost immediately after breaking the news. I apologized profusely for not being able to make it. I devised about three different alternatives, but my girlfriend explained that it was okay. It was a hard pill to swallow. I wanted to be there. I couldn’t be there.
While moving my friend into his new place, it worsened. I grew light-headed from the pain. On the last trip into the apartment with a 56″ TV in hand, my hip gave out not once, but twice. It was at that moment I realized I made a good call. There was no way in hell I would’ve been able to make the hour-long drive to my girlfriend’s and to have the energy to keep up with them, especially the kids.
I went home and rested for the remainder of Saturday including a three-hour nap.
Fast forward to Sunday. I make it up to my girlfriend’s to spend the night. I spent some time with her little guy (her five-year-old son). We went to the local playground for nearly two hours, and I carried him to and from there. This would later come back to haunt me. I pushed myself too damn hard. When nighttime came around, I could not lay still in bed. My right leg throbbed. I didn’t want to keep my girlfriend up all night with my tossing and turning, so I slept on this little couch bed in her office. To say the least, it was not a good night’s sleep.
Running on two hours of sleep, I woke up early in an effort to beat city traffic during my hour-long commute. My girlfriend and I laid on the couch for about 20 minutes. We both weren’t having it today, but I drug my ass out the door to work. I was okay at first. Then, the exhaustion set in and then the pain.
As much as I didn’t want to, I called out of work for the day. I needed the money, and I didn’t want to let my clients down (I’m a mental health counselor). However, I apparently needed the break more. I drove home and laid down for an hour.
At this point with my pain, I fall back on one of my favorite remedies. I schedule a massage. This isn’t one of those “spa day” massages. I go for my massage therapist to seriously loosen up my muscles and use deep tissue techniques to give me at least a few weeks of relief.
Luckily, he had immediate availability. I paid him extra, and he proceeded to work on nearly every part of my body for the next two and a half hours. It was also one of the most painful massages I’ve had in a long time.
Once again, good call.
In both instances, I was disappointed in myself. At my age (32 if you’re curious), I should be in my prime and physically capable. I also felt like a huge letdown to my loved ones and clientele. I wanted to be there for them, but I just couldn’t. I took responsibility for something I had no control over. At least that was what my emotional reasoning told me.
Both times I proved myself wrong. I made the right call in pulling back. I apparently have a better understanding of my limits than I realized. More importantly, this weekend reinforced a powerful point. One cannot feel guilty for utilizing necessary self-care for self-preservation.
-The Caring Counselor